What's The Chance Of A Woman On The 2012 Ballot?S

With Sarah Palin off the deep end and Hillary Clinton deeply invested in foreign policy, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Jill Miller Zimon speculate on which female politicians might be on the ballot next.

Cillizza's two lists — one of his own imagination and one responding to inane suggestions from readers — have some okay thoughts but mostly they're of the not-gonna-happen school. Here's why.

  • Of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cillizza says, and Zimon agrees (except about the ageism):

    But, Hutchison seems set on returning to the Lone Star State full time with her 2010 primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry (R). If she wins that race, Hutchison would theoretically be in position to run but she would be 69 years old on election day 2012 and putting together a national campaign would be hard to imagine.

    I say: First off, Hutchison would have to get through (another) brutal GOP primary to get the nod in 2012, and she's already suffering from withering criticism from the right on everything from her anti-tax credentials to her anti-choice position (apparently, she's not nearly enough so). While the age thing is a potential factor — except for John McCain, and Fred Thompson and lots of other people who run — the bigger problem is that she's likely to fade into electoral obscurity after she loses the primary and leaves the Senate.

  • Cillizza brings up Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who was born in Canada, so she's not even eligible. Why bring her up? Because there are so few women who would even be credible that she's inevitably shoehorned into these lists.
  • Cillizza himself is a fan of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (who, by the way, would be 63 in 2016, not that Cillizza brings it up), but for no good reason other than that she's a Senator. He thinks her upcoming 2012 reelection campaign will be bruising (assuming she wins); I think she's seems nice enough lady and is a good Senator, but I haven't seen much in the way of serious policy chops or national charisma on a Clinton-Obama-Palin imagination-capturing level.
  • Cillizza also sticks South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herserth Sandlin on the list, but points out that she declined to run for governor next year and might or might not run for Senator in 2014 if Tim Johnson declines to run again — not that only being in the Senate for less than a full term is a bar to a Presidential run anymore. I would predict that Herseth Sandlin's marriage to an older, former Congressman (Max Sandlin) would be thrown in her face, in much the way Bill Clinton's supposed influence on Hillary was during her primary run. But perhaps I'm jaded.
  • Cillizza's readers, though, are just dumb. First up, they nominate Michelle Obama. Just because she's cool, doesn't mean she's a viable candidate — and the woman who made her husband promise that he'd give up politics if he lost his Senate run doesn't exactly seem like someone looking to extend her family's time in the national (and international) spotlight.
  • Readers also nominate Janet Napolitano, who would've been a potential contender but who probably scuttled that by moving over the DHS. She's now in charge of an unwieldy, thankless and fucked-up agency that's going to get blamed for the smallest national security screw-up. And, worse yet, she's unmarried, and we all know what that means.
  • And after years of Democrats complaining about dynasties, readers brought up Karenna Gore Schiff. Never heard of her? That's because she hasn't run for elected office, like, ever. They might as well have named Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.
  • Next up is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has faced multiple challenges from her left, might yet be subject to a primary challenge and who is best known, at the moment, for being often compared to Tracie Flick. While she's young enough to wait for 2020 (when she'd likely be more credible) and could shore up enough support by 2016 to live down her rocky start, I'm still not buying her as Presidential material yet.
  • They're slightly more correct about Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar's chances, since she acquitted herself quite nicely in the Sotomayor confirmation hearings by bringing the mom-love and the tough-on-crime cred to the proceedings. But the Dems didn't have much luck with their last Presidential candidate from Minnesota.
  • Cillizza's readers are also on about Kathleen Sebelius who I think, like Napolitano, probably gave that chance up when she resigned an elected position (and a platform to run for Senate) to take the job at HHS. Sebelius is going to be the one in charge of — and blamed for — most of the regulations implementing Obama's health reform, including the eluzive public option. She's about to be one of the bigger lightening rods of this Administration, and it's a guarantee from the Congressional fight that something's going to be fucked up about it.
  • Then there's Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who isn't running for either the soon-to-be-open Senate seat or the Governor's slot in Illinois. State Attorney General in a corruption-ridden state where the Feds get all the glory (unlike the New York Attorney General, when he's not boinking sex workers) isn't a particularly likely platform from which to launch a Presidential bid.
  • Zimon is more focused on who could be the next Sarah Palin. Her list includes a state elected official who couldn't win re-election; former eBay chairwoman Meg Whitman, who is taking on the Governator (also an outside pick for Cillizza); the Senators from Maine who wouldn't win a single Republican primary; Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, whom everyone seems to hate; Hawai'i Governor Linda Lingle, who didn't win any points with the right by proclaiming Obama a citizen; and Liddy Dole, who tried it once, failed to win reelection last year and made enemies in Republican circles with her mismanagement at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. So, other than maybe Meg Whitman, who is really going to have to step up her public speaking and politicking skills, I ain't buying it.
  • Cillizza, in the end, brings up a couple of national unknowns — Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (running for Senate), New Hampshire Senatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte and Florida CFO Alex Sink (D) — who could make a run for it in 2012 or 2016. This seems a more likely scenario to me, particularly on the Republican side. Who would've predicted in 1997 that George Bush (as opposed to Jeb) would've been the Republican candidate? Where was Clinton on the national radar in 1989? Who thought the brand-new Senator from Illinois in 2005 would be the President in 2009? The Republican and Democratic parties began a process of rebuilding after losing big-time in those elections — a process that, frankly, the Republican party seems unwilling or unable to do at this stage. So, in all likelihood, they'll do what the Dems did in 1984 and 2004 and the Republicans did in 1996 and nominate some dude that "earned" the slot, rather than someone who energizes the electorate.

But who did they miss? Or do you think it's possible that, while we might not have to wait 24 years to see another woman get close to the top of the ticket, we might have to wait more than 3 or 7?

A Woman in the White House? [The Fix]
Madame President, Revisited [The Fix]
GOP's White House 2012 ticket: Female-Female? [Writes Like She Talks]

Earlier: White House Turns To Head Off More Regina Benjamin Rumors